Whoa-oa-oa! I feeeel good! I often find myself silently singing to these lyrics from James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good),” when I wake up every morning feeling alive, excited, and full of energy. Every day I get to change and save the lives of the people in my city. No, I’m no super hero – I work for local government at the City of Ontario. 33 years ago when I took a summer internship job at a local government agency, little did I know that I was on the beginning of my journey in life to fulfillment and self-discovery.
I can still remember my first day as a 21 year old, walking into City Hall, feeling nervous and scared. At the time, I had absolutely no understanding of local government and why I was working there except for two reasons: (1) the job paid $11 an hour – a lot back then!, and (2) I was the only applicant!
I’d like to tell you that I immediately fell in love with local government, but that would be untruthful. However, after finding an amazing mentor, learning more about the meaningful work of local government, and being afforded the opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives, I serendipitously discovered my passion and purpose in life. Although I was making a difference in the community through my work as a government employee, I failed to focus on the quality of life of my colleagues at work.
According to annual surveys conducted by Gallup, 71 percent of government workers are unfulfilled and disengaged at work. Not until after many years into my career did I find my own leadership courage to be a change agent and create an environment that delivered happiness to my colleagues.
Inspired by the people-centric cultures of successful organizations in the private sector such as Zappos, Google, and Mindvalley, I came up with my own personal list of 5 easy ways to deliver happiness in the workplace cultures of local government agencies:
5 Ways to Deliver Happiness
- Have Fun! – Life should be fun! For many of us, work is a necessity and significant part of our life. So, having more fun at work is a path to living the good life.
- Make Friends and Connections – We are social animals and naturally seek companionships and connections with others as part of our well-being. Friendships help bring out our best selves.
- Focus on Health – We feel our overall best with an aligned, healthy mind, body, & soul. The key to wellness starts with a healthy relationship of the mind with the body and soul. So, mindfulness exercises such as self-awareness, yoga, positive thinking, and meditation at work are key to achieving happiness.
- Grow and Learn as a Person – We are all on a life-long journey to learn who we are as people and to have more fulfilling, memorable experiences in life. Personal growth often requires change and pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone. So, providing growth opportunities and the encouragement to take risks at work is essential to living a fulfilling life.
- Do Meaningful Work – We feel alive, excited, passionate, and full of energy in life when our work makes a difference in society and is in alignment with our personal values. Moreover, it inspires us to be altruistic, to become servant leaders, and to self-sacrifice in the service of a greater good.
A Path to the Good Life
After personally implementing these simple yet vital values into my work and personal life, I’ve found that my colleagues are happier and more fulfilled not only as government employees, but as people. Seeing the personal transformation in my colleagues’ lives as well as my own, I believe that we can transform the culture of local governments by delivering happiness to the community.
I feel truly blessed to have found a job where I am working to live, rather than living to work. Helping others achieve happiness has given me my purpose in life. My experience in local government has led me on the path to the good life – delivering happiness and making a real difference in the lives of others.
To learn more about a people-centric culture, please check out this YouTube video:
Grant Yee has been the Administrative Services/Finance Director for the City of Ontario since 2001 and has dedicated his 33 year professional career in public service as a municipal finance officer in California. He is passionate about helping local government and making an impact on people’s lives by creating a great place to work and developing a “think different” organizational culture that challenges conventional mindsets and promotes innovative thinking to transform government. Grant holds a B.S. degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern California.